With Summer officially hear you may decide to ramp up your workouts. However, many of the reasons to keep moving have nothing to do with the scale. Here are five benefits you won't want to miss out on.
Sweat your way to a smarter brain. You may have already noticed that a good workout can boost your brain power, not to mention your confidence. One animal study found that aerobic fitness promotes cognitive abilities. Another review of studies from the Netherlands found that aerobic exercise (between 2-7 days a week) can also help boost cognitive processing speed, motor function and visual and auditory attention in older adults. According to the researchers "improvements in cognition as a result of improvements in cardiovascular fitness are being explained by improvements in cerebral blood flow, leading to increased brain metabolism which, in turn, stimulates the production of neurotransmitters and formation of new synapses." Who knew that your gym membership may just make you smarter for a measly $30 - $60 a month.
Combats the desk job scenario: Researchers recently determined that increased sitting time is associated with higher inflammatory markers and a lower metabolism in women. Fat cells release hormones that regulate appetite and fat metabolism, including leptin and adiponectin. The subjects in this study included 505 adults with an average age of 59 years. The results showed that, in women, increased sitting time correlated to increases in the inflammatory markers CRP and interleukin-6. Also, increased sitting time was associated with imbalances in fasting insulin, leptin and the leptin/adiponectin ratio in women. Another study found that discovered that sitting for long periods increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and death. If you have a deskjob it is important to take a few minutes every hour to get up and walk around (or the very ambitious, do a few flights of stairs in your office building).
Cuts down on mindless snacking. While you may think that a good workout boosts your appetite, it's often the opposite. According to recent research, 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning actually reduces a person's motivation for food. The study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, measured the food motivation of 18 normal-weight women and 17 clinically obese women over two separate days. Scientists measured the neural activity of 35 women while they viewed food images, both following a morning of exercise and a morning without exercise. They found their response to the food pictures decreased after the brisk workout. So not only does exercise burn more fat, it makes the calories that you do consume less enticing, making it easier to stick to your diet.
Reduces your risk. According to researchers, post-menopausal women who engage in moderate to vigorous exercise have a reduced risk of breast cancer. It was found, over 6.6 years of follow up, that women who engaged in more than 7 hours per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise for the last ten years were 16% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who were inactive. These benefits don't, however, just affect the young at heart - we can reap the rewards in our early years too. The study of nearly 65,000 women found that those who were physically active had a 23 percent lower risk of breast cancer before menopause. In particular, high levels of physical activity from ages 12 to 22 contributed most strongly to the lower breast cancer risk.
Takes ten years off. While a healthy body fat perspective and waist-to-hip ratio is essential for a long and healthy life, recent research shows that physical fitness may trump these factors. Adults over age 60 who had higher levels of cardiovascular fitness lived longer than unfit adults, independent of their levels of body fat. Results of the study underscore the importance of physical inactivity as a risk factor for death from heart disease and stroke. However many men and women become gradually less fit with age - especially after the age of 45.